With all the COVID-19 stuff going on, I thought I’d write a post about my non-coronavirus health issue as a distraction. Last night, I was sitting around and noticed that I had a dark floater in my left eye. I’ve had occassional floaters in my time, but this one was a bit more menacing since it was dark, not translucent like others I’ve had. After my evening meditation, I also started having flashes of light on the side of my eye.
Being the inquisitive type, I took to the interwebs and came upon a Mayo clinic article about floaters and flashes, which under the section, “When to see a doctor” had the item, “Flashes of light in the same eye as the floaters”. I immediately thought, “I don’t want to be in a hospital during a pandemic”. My wife offered to drive me to the hospital, so, being proactive, I decided to sleep on it and maybe it would be gone by the morning.
I got up this morning, and sure enough, the floater was still there, albeit a bit more scattered. And the flashes of light were back for a little while. I also noticed that when I looked in the mirror, I could see a lot of little dots – looked the filth on the screens in the pictures from ‘My Cousin Vinny”.
So, I decided it was time to seek professional medical advice. I contacted my optometrist (who I had just seen only a couple of weeks ago). I was lucky that I got her – the office is on reduced hours due to the pandemic and she happened to be the one on call. Dr. Wray was really great – explaining the odds (7% retinal detachment, 93% just a tear or nothing) and referred me to the Eye Care Center of Northern Colorado who got back to me immediately and set up an appointment.
Hopefully you haven’t had to go to a medical facility during this pandemic, but I was pleased with the precautions they took. They greeted us at the door to take out temperature, and everyone was wearing masks and gloves. The exam chairs were all wiped down with bleach after each patient and there were signs in the waiting room about social distancing. Of course, we were the only ones in the waiting room – everyone else was sitting out in their cars.
After the initial exam of questions and dilations, I got to go through another round. The assistant was great – she explained what she was doing, gave me a handout that I had already seen on line and told me what the doctor was doing to do (Press on your eyeball – it may hurt). She explained that as we have more birthdays (a fancy way of saying – “You’re getting old!”), that these things happen. Once my eyes were fully dilated, the doctor came in, pressed on my eyeball and found that I had a retinal tear. (Man that hurt – as Daffy Duck would say, “I’m not like other people, I don’t like pain. It hurts me.”) At least it wasn’t a detached retina. Problem with a retinal tear is that it it can allow for fluid to enter beneath the retina and cause a retinal detachment. So, the solution is to close the tear.
Easiest way to do that is with a laser. As the assistant said, “The doctor will spot weld it shut.” Great! As one of my colleagues said, “Welding and eyeballs should not be used in the same sentence.” I’ve always been afraid of the idea of lasers on eyes.
But, in this case, it seemed like the prudent thing to do. A detached retina sounded way worse. Plus, they could do it right away. The assistant told me that it would be a green light and that afterwards, people see purple flashes. I told her I was colorblind, so it would interesting to see what color I saw. (The floater actually shows up as crimson in light – a color that I rarely can see). I did see the green during the lasing (kinda like an acid trippy scene), but no purple afterwards.
I have a hard time putting drops in my eye (the assistants found that out), so was concerned about keeping my eyes open for a laser shining in my eye. They told me that if it was difficult for me, they would stop and put me under. I fully expected to be the difficult patient (as did the doctor), but in less than 3 minutes, my retinal tear was spot welded shut and I left with nothing more than a long lasting “ice cream headache”.
Now I’m on the mend. Can’t work on the computer for too long (writing this is a bit taxing), so I’ll be only working off and on from home the next few days. And now I have a new friend to play with. I can take the floater for walks across my eye by twisting my head. I told my wife that I needed to give it a name and she suggested Floaty McFloatFace. I agree.
It’s been a hectic day, but I have lots of gratitude for all that happened. First I’m thankful for my supportive wife who was willing to rush me to the hospital yesterday, but ended up driving me around with dilated eyes today. I’m grateful that I didn’t have to go to a hospital during a pandemic. I’m grateful that I was able to get this taken care of quickly. I’m grateful for the workers at the eye clinic who are working under the stress of this pandemic. All had great attitudes. I’m grateful I have good health insurance to help cover the costs and sick leave I can use from work. And I’m grateful for my sangha who said healing Medicine Buddha prayers to guide me through this.
I hope your day went better. Be grateful for the good things in these times of upheaval.